Vegan Peach Pancakes

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We kicked off Travis’s Edible Elements kit from Raddish Kids with this recipe relying on… air. Ingredients that harness air include, yeast, baking soda, and baking powder, among others. Although we couldn’t make the original recipe (relying on eggs), Raddish always thoughtfully provides a delicious vegan alternative.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium peaches
  • 1 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups vanilla almond milk
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Earth Balance butter
  • Maple syrup
  1. Peel and slice the peaches, and set aside. The recipe card featured a helpful how-to on cutting stone fruit, and Travis enjoyed the challenge of peeling the peach!Vegan Peach Pancakes (2)
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the almond milk, vinegar, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring just until smooth.Vegan Peach Pancakes (1)
  4. Heat a skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup batter per pancake, and cook for 3 minutes, or until bubbles cover the tops. Add a few peach slices to each pancake, then flip and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes.Vegan Peach Pancakes (3)
  5. Serve with the butter and maple syrup to taste!

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Create a Compass

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This quick hands-on experience lets kids make their own compass with just a few household objects!

Cut a circle from a piece of craft foam, just a bit bigger than a paper clip. Set aside.

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Rub a metal paperclip with a magnet about 20 times, being sure to scrape in the same direction each time. Travis proudly counted this out! This step will charge your paper clip with a magnetic charge.

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Tape the paper clip to the foam circle, then place in a dish of shallow water. You’ll notice it wobble at first as the water settles, but slowly it will come to point true north. Test it against a real compass for the official results. Getting there…

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….North!

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Travis was thrilled this worked, all the more so because it stayed oriented north even hours after we left the dish on the windowsill. A simple but great way to show off the pull of magnetism.

 

American Flag Fruit Kabobs

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Here’s the perfect fruit salad for the 4th of July… In the shape of the American flag!

Ahead of time, cut 17 strawberries in half so you have 34 pieces total. You’ll also need 28 slices of banana and 30 blueberries. Then set out 11 skewers.

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Travis loved helping me puzzle through each skewer in order as we worked left to right across the flag. The first 5 skewers needed: strawberry, banana, strawberry, banana, and then six blueberries.

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The remaining 6 skewers needed: strawberry, banana, strawberry, banana, strawberry. I was so proud of Travis threading these on without poking himself!

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And now you have an American flag! Cue up the patriotic tunes as you work (You’re a Grand Old Flag comes to mind), and you have all the makings of a perfect start to Independence Day.

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You can share this fruit platter with a crowd… but Travis was determined to eat his away across Old Glory solo!

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Patriotic Balloons

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Even if your family can’t wave balloons at a real parade this year, I loved this idea (spotted in Country Living magazine) to make easy patriotic balloons for fun at home.

I blew up big blue balloons (and red or white ones would obviously also work), then added the letters U, S, and A out of star stickers.

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You can use small office star stickers, but we found big sparkly ones that added to the fun.

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While I decorated a few balloons in this way, the kids loved adding stickers to a few extras. Stars all over!

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We can’t wait to wave these at home while we watch the virtual fireworks.

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Sky Colors

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Travis’s latest issue of Highlights magazine included an interesting article about why the sky appears blue even though sunlight contains all colors. (Spoiler: nitrogen and oxygen scatter blue light more so than the other colors). We then played with this quick way to visualize what’s going on right here at home!

Fill a clear plastic cup with 12 ounces water.

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Place the cup on a sheet of white paper in direct sunlight. We immediately noticed that a bright spot of white light (a.k.a. all the colors) appears on the white paper.

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Now we added three quick pours of almond milk to the cup. This makes the water a little blue-ish, because now blue is scattered more than the other colors just as in the air. The color on the paper, on the other hand, changes to orange, since this is opposite from blue on the color wheel.

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I explained to Travis that this is a lot like what we notice at sunrise and sunset, when reds and oranges are allowed to come through.

Even though we could see the blue tint/orange paper a little, it wasn’t terribly pronounced. We’re wondering if perhaps this trick works better with dairy milk? If you use cow’s milk, please share your findings in the comments!

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Glow-Bee

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Next time your kids want to toss a disc back and forth, don’t just play Frisbee; play Glow-bee. All you need are a few glow-in-the-dark sticks to take a regular game up a notch.

First, Travis used paint markers to decorate a clear plastic lid. We used one from an empty yogurt container, although a larger lid might have been better.

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Let the paint dry completely.

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Wait for it to get dark, then add glow sticks! Snap them just before playing, and use hot glue to adhere to the decorated lid.

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This was so fun to toss, even though it wasn’t pitch black.

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The streaks of light still made it look like a little comet shooting through the halls.

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A fun way tire ’em out with a little exercise, right before bed.

Cartography Kiwi Crate

 

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Kiwi Co terms this their Treasure Hunt crate, based around a treasure chest and search for pirate booty. The projects are an excellent jumping off point to teach kids all about the science of cartography, a.k.a. map making. Thanks to the treasure chest and gold pieces, this one is sure to appeal to kids of pretty much any age!

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First up was making the treasure, Embossed Coins. Travis pondered very seriously how best to design each of the 3 provided gold coins, popping out templates of Steve the Kiwi and numbers.

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He didn’t quite understand how these could become coins until we covered his design with a gold sticker. Press down and – voila! – the design underneath appears!

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This had definite wow factor, even more so once running over the design with a q-tip for better embossing.

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Next, he traded coin minting for carpentry, and put together the Treasure Chest. He was a bit distracted looking ahead (a key! a lock!) but I guided his attention back to building the chest first. This involved slotting together pieces for the base and lid, and lining up letters to make sure each piece was in the right slot. I appreciated how intuitive Kiwi Co made this step!

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A wooden dowel is then inserted to hold the lid to the base.

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To add a swashbuckling touch, use a pipe cleaner to thread the provided rope through the chest’s latch. Add the silver lock. Travis loved practicing with the key over and over!

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We securely locked away our gold coins and it was time to Make a Treasure Map. This activity was absolutely fantastic for getting Travis to think about how objects look from above. (I had him imagine he was a bird; in what shape would the bird perceive our couch, our coffee table, etc.).

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There was a marked difference between his first effort (mapping our living room)…

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…and his second attempt (mapping the hallway).

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The provided pen is one of those fun ones with 3 colors of ink. We added a red X on each map for the treasure and a blue star for the start. He loved then hiding the treasure chest and sending me on a hunt.

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Then we flipped roles; I made a map of the kitchen and he had to puzzle it through.

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The booklet had a great explanation for kids about how they’re using math in this activity, everything from transferring 3D objects (solids) into 2D pictures, to the ideas of estimation and measurements.

As a bonus, we made Silver Pirate Coins for extra booty. Cut circles from thin cardboard (like a cereal box), then add other pieces of cut cardboard or patterns in glue on top.

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Let dry, then cover with foil and use a q-tip again to make your design stand out. We decided this worked way better on the cut cardboard version rather than the glue version.

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As always, Explore magazine had loads more information and activities to try, including another map to draw according to a provided legend.

For some fun reading to compliment this crate, check out Mapping & Navigation by Cynthia Light Brown or Small World: Maps and Mapmaking by Karen Romano Young.

Smokey Bear

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Heading in to summer, it was fun and informative to lead Travis through a lesson on Smokey Bear and outdoor fire safety today. This little lesson plan was the kick-off to Travis’s “Edible Elements” kit from Raddish Kids; we’ll soon be making recipes that rely on elemental power (think fire and ice!) during preparation.

But first up: the fire safety lesson. I provided Travis with pictures on index cards as we talked about safe ways to use fire, both indoors and out (the oven, a campfire). Older kids can come up with a list without this parental prompt.

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We then watched a video from Smokey Bear, and I read facts about Smokey’s origins. Turns out he was based on a real rescued cub!

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Travis enjoyed activities including a dot-to-dot…

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…and forest puppets to color.

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Then it was time for a puppet show! Oh no, Travis’s sneaky fox stole the water to douse the campfire. He then decided the skunk could spray it out! I loved that these puppets fired up (ha) the imagination and the learning.

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Big kids have so many options for extension here, whether creating their own PSA about fire safety on poster board or video; learning about the fire alert system; writing a letter to Smokey; or even learning about a historical fire like the Chicago Fire of 1871.

But for my kindergartner, we kept things light and not scary… and he earned a certificate to boot!

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Ice-Dyed Pillowcases

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I was trying to channel old-school camp with this craft today, although it was sort of a fail for Travis. But at least it got us outside in the morning sunshine in these weeks before real camps safely reopen!

The idea was to dye pillow cases with powdered paint and melting ice, putting the heat of the sun to work for us.

I placed a disposable aluminum tray on the patio (with a garbage bag underneath to catch any paint drips), and then placed a rack in the tray.

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Wet your pillowcase thoroughly, then ring out and place on the rack.

Cover the pillowcase with ice. We put on latex gloves (which the kids always think are hilarious to wear), and sprinkled the ice liberally with the powdered paint.

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As the ice melts, the color starts to run into the fabric. Travis thought this was neat to watch for about, oh, one minute.

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Then we got a bit impatient and folded the pillowcase over the ice so that the color transferred to other parts of the fabric, instead of waiting to dye it section by section.

I saw pictures of this craft where it looked more like deliberate designs had been made (i.e. geometric shapes), but I have no idea how this is possible. Perhaps by folding the pillowcase into a square or triangle, and letting color seep through all the layers? If you try, let us know how it turns out in the comments!

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Note: Because I didn’t want the paint to stay on the pillowcase, we used washable powdered paint. Be sure to use a fabric paint or permanent powder, if you want your design to last beyond the “camp” day.

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Staying Cool

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We’re currently in the midst of a heat wave, and are looking for any way to beat the heat. To turn possible-misery into a teachable moment, today I helped Travis explore ways to keep cool, all parked right in front of a nice cool fan!

For this simple STEM experiment, we started out simply by turning on the fan and moving either closer to it or further away. I asked Travis which was cooler, and he rightly noted that being close was best.

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Then we draped a wet paper towel over one of his arms. Now he alternated the wet arm and the dry arm in front of the fan. Which felt cooler? The wet arm!

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So now we had some scientifically-backed ideas to cool down on a hot day: wind and water. We brainstormed other things that might keep us cool, too, like shade.

For a minute there, we beat the heat!